PEDRO, Ohio — It took four quarters, but River Valley kicked off a new era of football in style Friday night following a 26-18 victory over host Rock Hill in a Week 1 non-conference matchup in Lawrence County.
The visiting Raiders (1-0) — beginning their first season as members of the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division — faced a familiar foe in the Redmen (0-1), as both teams were members of the Ohio Valley Conference prior to this season. RVHS had also lost five straight contests and had only once beaten Rock Hill since joining the OVC back in 2002.
River Valley stormed out to an early lead after Sam Payne scored on a 45-yard scamper, giving the guests a 7-0 lead after one quarter of play.
RHHS, however, answered with a 35-yard scoring pass from Gabe Marzicola to Drew McClaskey — allowing the hosts to pull to within 7-6 early in the second canto. Chance Blankenship added a 66-yard TD run for the Redmen, allowing them to secure a 12-7 lead at the half.
The Raiders took the lead for good in the third quarter after Josh Campbell plowed his way into the endzone from a yard out, giving the Silver and Black a 14-12 cushion entering the finale.
Campbell added a one-yard scoring run early in the fourth to increase the lead to 20-12, but Jordan Blagg countered with a three-yard run to allow Rock Hill to close back to within 20-18 midway in the fourth.
Campbell’s third TD run of the night — from three yards out — ultimately sealed the deal for the Raiders, allowing them to pick up the program’s first road win since a 13-12 victory in Week 1 of the 2012 campaign. It was also River Valley’s first win at RHHS since the turn of the millennium.
Friday night also served as the third time in four years that RVHS coach Jerrod Sparling’s squad started the season with a win. RVHS is now 10-5 in season openers since the 2000 campaign, including wins in five of the last six.
River Valley rushed 52 times for 284 yards and threw for another 116 for a total of 400 yards of total offense, while the Redmen mustered just 185 yards on 28 carries and another 81 yards through the air for 274 total yards of offense.
RVHS claimed a 22-7 overall edge in first downs and both team turned the ball over twice in the contest.
Sam Payne finished the night with 132 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, followed by Justin Arrowood with 120 rushing yards on 20 totes. Campbell finished the night with four carries for 11 yards, including the three rushing scores.
Dayton Hardway completed 9-of-17 passes for 116 yards, throwing zero touchdowns and one interception. Kirk Morrow hauled in four passes for 49 yards, while Tyler Twyman caught two passes for 56 yards.
Mark Wray and Josh Campbell led the defense with six tackles apiece, followed by Brody Moles with five tackles and a sack. George Williams also picked off a pass in the triumph.
River Valley makes its home debut Friday night when Southeastern comes to Bidwell for a Week 2 matchup at 7:30 p.m.
Editor’s Note: The statistical information from Friday night’s River Valley-Rock Hill football contest was not received until after the deadline for the Sunday Times-Sentinel sports edition.